The Tin Can Isalnd Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted 33 containers of expired and rotten rice as well as other illicit items worth N2.713 billion imported into the country through the seaport.
The Service said the rice, packaged in 50 kg bags for Nigerian companies have already spoilt and infested with maggots and cockroaches. For instance, ‘Master rice’ was packed for Masters Energy Commodities Trading Limited located at 31A, Remi Fani Kayode Street, GRA Ikeja and Jasmine rice also packed for Yumfei International Trading Company Limited, located at 103, Ebittu Ukiwe street, Jabi Abuja, respectively.
Daily Sun learnt that the rice, which had expired since 2018, were imported from China and Thailand and were about to be smuggled into the Nigerian market, as one of the containers had some empty bags with new dates during inspection, apparently, to be used to rebag the expired rice.
Speaking yesterday at a media briefing on the seizure of rice and tramadol in Tin Can Island Port Command, the Controller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retrd), said that other items seized include one container of rice concealed in spare parts, 11 containers of unregistered pharmaceutical products, two containers of used tyres, one container of used clothing and four containers of refined vegetable oil in retail packs.
According to him, all the containers have been seized in line with the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 LFN 2004 sections 46 and 161.
The Customs boss added that efforts are on to arrest the persons behind the smuggling act going by the various addresses on the bags of rice and contacts on importation documents
He said: “One significant thing about this seizure is that all the rice products had expired or about to expire. Also remarkable is the seizure of variants and unregistered performance enhancing drugs among the pharmaceutical.
“No doubt, those who imported imported these dangerous items do not wish us well. Imagine if had succeeded in getting the expired rice in and then rebagged and changed the expiration date for Nigerians to consume.”